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Suicide rates up sharply among county residents
Tahlequah Daily Press - 4/20/2019
April 20-- Apr. 20--Suicide rates have been a cause for concern for several years, with recent data showing there has been an alarming rise of death by suicide or suicide attempts among teenagers.
Data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicate there was an increase from 580,000 children in 2007 to 1.12 million in 2015 who received a diagnosis of suicidal ideation or suicide attempts.
The study's findings suggested there was a critical need to augment community mental health resources, emergency department physician preparedness and post-emergency department risk reduction initiatives to decrease suicide among children.
In 2016, CDC data showed suicide is the second-leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24. Reported suicides for those aged 15-24 numbered 5,723, and for ages 10-14, there were 436 suicides.
Because data shows the very young can have thoughts of suicide, and sometimes even attempt it, Tahlequah Public Schools chose last year to extend its suicide prevention program to include fifth-grade students.
According to Tahlequah police reports, among teenagers and adults during the years 2016 and 2018, there were 401 emergency detention orders wherein officers transported to treatment facilities individuals they felt were a danger to themselves.
"We were transporting a least three a week," said Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King.
When determining if individuals need to be taken to a treatment facility, officers look to see if they have been diagnosed, are a threat to themselves or others, or show they are in a mental health crisis.
Within the 401 EDOs, there have been 34 death by suicides among among adults and children and 194 attempted death by suicides. Since the beginning of this year, reports show there have been about 26 death by suicides or suicide attempts.
"There has been a dramatic increase, with about a 20 percent increase each year," King said.
A number of factors can potentially be attributed to death by suicide or suicide attempts, including depression, anxiety, drug addiction, bullying and overall mental health. Occasionally, people who may be considering suicide can show it in multiple ways through direct or indirect verbal clues, behavioral clues and situational clues.
"We're becoming an impersonal society," King said. "The best thing you can do is to check on each other and don't be afraid to say you need help."
While the increased rate of death by suicide is clear, the support for mental health appears to lacking.
"I think part of it is the continued financial decline in mental health facilities," King said. "Ten years ago, there were mental health services in prisons, and that was cut."
For those seeking assistance, reach out to organizations such as CN Behavioral Health at 918-207-4977, CREOKS Behavioral Health at 918-207-0078, or HawkReach Counseling Services at 918-444-2042.
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